SOM collaborated with Jones Day, a global law firm spread across five continents with 44 offices in major centers of business and finance around the world to create a vibrant and forward-thinking new environment for its New York office, located in Lower Manhattan. After three decades in Midtown, the decision to move downtown illustrated the Firm’s commitment to New York City as well as to the revitalization of Lower Manhattan.
The process of engagement with the client began with a Vision Session with key stakeholders from Jones Day’s New York office. The purpose of the Vision Session was to define the overall aspirations for the project. The findings from the session established a framework for the project and led to the development of project goals, such as emphasizing the firm as a partnership, promoting and facilitating teamwork and collaboration, creating a culture of interaction, maximizing the spectacular views, and creating a connection to the Lower Manhattan neighborhood.
SOM implemented a design concept that transformed previously underutilized elements of the existing building into valuable spaces. For example, formerly unoccupied terraces were converted into lush outdoor landscapes. The project team designed a Conference Center on the top floor of the building to maximize the unobstructed views of the Manhattan skyline to the north and the harbor to the south. The central corridor was carved out to run along the north/south axis of the building to create a visual connection between uptown and downtown Manhattan. The exterior views to the west and the east emphasize the river and the surrounding neighborhood while also allowing for natural daylight to infiltrate the workplace.
The project team designed a seven-story stair in the central corridor to create a vertical connection between all the floors and promote a culture of collaboration. The location of this ceremonial stair in the central corridor, or “Boulevard,” guides employees to the amenities and support functions strategically located on the Boulevard. The central stair maximizes spontaneous interaction among colleagues while also promoting physical activity. The design transformed the previously underutilized narrow corridor into a destination that promotes an effective and functioning workplace environment. Moreover, the interconnecting stair strategically links all the workplace amenities, including a conference center, a servery and full service dining room, a lounge area and coffee bar, a fitness center, and a library collection and reading room.
With SOM’s design, the workplace evolved from a typical legal office into an open work area with the use of transparent glass walls around private offices and conference rooms. This increased transparency celebrates the activity within the office and facilitates interaction, collaboration, and shared experience and knowledge.